Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
a bibliography which focus on the Sephardic heritage and ad ­
ditional articles are planned for fu tu re volumes.
To be app lauded is the fact tha t in commemorating the 500th
anniversary o f the expulsion Sephard ’92 has accentuated the
positive and placed emphasis on the reb irth and subsequent
growth o f the Sephardic heritage and its place in Jewish history.
In so doing, it has indicated that present-day world Jewry can
learn much from the creative strategies o f post-expulsion Se­
phardic Jewry for maintaining its p roud legacy.
In a study published in the Israeli jou rn a l
Alpayim
(no. 3,
1990) Eliezer Schweid, professor o f Jewish though t at the He­
brew University, has compared the expulsion from Spain with
the Holocaust and has analyzed the Jewish community’s re ­
sponse to both events. Actually, Schweid finds that it is difficult
to make the comparison since the expulsion did not result in
u tte r destruction as in the case o f the Holocaust. On the basis
o f the literature documenting the Jewish response to the events
in Spain, Schweid perceives that it involved an organic linkage
to the past based on shared classical Jewish texts. It was this
connection with the sources o f Jewish instruction tha t enabled
Sephardic Jews to rebuild their shattered lives and to restore
their community s tructure in their new lands o f abode. Schweid
points ou t that the paradigm o f the response o f the Spanish
Jewry to persecution, which emphasized the renewal o f o u r sp ir­
itual heritage, has much to teach us in utilizing the memory
o f the Holocaust as a positive factor in s treng then ing Jewish
national identity.
II
The year 1492 has often been viewed as a year o f paradox,
for as the Spanish Jewish exiles took to the seas to escape p e r­
secution, Columbus’ ships were making their way across the At­
lantic to seek new opportunities. T h e discovery o f America and
the figure o f Columbus often served as material for Jewish writ­
ers who sought to satisfy the thirst for information about the
New World. A p ioneering e ffo rt to gather some o f these literary
sources was made by Mendel Silber in his volume
America in
Hebrew Literature
(New Orleans, 1928). He collected many early
references in the original Hebrew and in English translation,